Our Story

Our Story

Our Foundation

The story of Mary Ward

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Our journey to Loreto

The story of Teresa Ball

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Loreto in Llandudno

The story of how the Retreat Centre came to be

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Our Foundation

The life of each one of us is influenced and shaped by our parents and the people who surround us as we grow into maturity; we are affected, too, by our natural surroundings and by the political situation into which we are born.

It was no different for Mary Ward, the woman whom thousands of Religious Women throughout the world are proud to call their foundress.

What a start to life hers was! Mary’s birth in Yorkshire in 1585, came at the time of deep religious division and persecution. Being born into a Catholic family meant possible persecution for adherence to the faith, and if not death, at least poverty as a result of constant fines!

Mary was surrounded by people of strong faith, mostly exemplified by the women who ran the households, taught the children, and led them to love and value Jesus. As a child living in the time of religious persecution, Mary must have recognised the influence of women in those dark days; – their resilience, their determination, their cheerfulness, their courage, their compassion – so it is no surprise that throughout her life she would champion the cause of women, demonstrated above all by the schools she established wherever she settled, offering girls the opportunity of a rich and varied education (a rare opportunity at that time).

Portrait of Mary Ward
Mary Ward Tapestry

Also influential were the Jesuit priests who sought safety in the Catholic homes around Yorkshire. Mary learned to treasure the Catholic faith and the Ignatian spirituality of the Jesuits. Throughout her life she would make only those choices which, through prayer, she knew to be God’s will for her.

Mary’s choice to serve God in religious life meant that she would need to leave the beauty of her beloved Yorkshire and move to the safety of the Continent. And so, alongside a group of like-minded women, she began the next stage of her journey – a journey with many twists and turns!

Along with a generous dose of Yorkshire forthrightness and common sense, Mary, throughout her life, embodied all the qualities that she had recognised and admired in the women and men among whom she had grown up – and she certainly drew upon them! Her poor health never held her back; her many critics seemed to make her more determined; the Church’s unwillingness to accept her ‘new’ form of religious life for women made her pray all the harder! And in 1645, back in her dear Yorkshire and facing death with her life’s work in tatters, she could still encourage her few faithful companions with the words – “What, still looking sad! Come, let us rather sing and praise God joyfully for all his infinite loving kindness!”

For a detailed account of Mary Ward’s life visit:

https://www.ibvm.org/
https://www.congregationofjesus.org.uk/

Our Journey to Loreto

Teresa Ball was the first to be associated with the name ‘Loreto’. She was an Irish woman who had been at school in the Bar Convent, York which was run by the Institute founded by Mary Ward. On her return to Dublin, she became deeply moved when she heard the words ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God’ spoken to her, and felt drawn to the religious life. Wondering about the next steps, she consulted the Archbishop, who was at the time very concerned for the poor of the city, and keen to establish education and health care for all. He encouraged her to return to the Bar Convent to make her novitiate, after which she would found a school in Dublin with the same mission and ethos as that in York. In 1821, the first Loreto School was opened in Ireland. Others were to follow, and many women joined Teresa in her mission. Mary Ward had had a great devotion to the Holy Family at the House of Loreto, and Teresa called the first school and all subsequent schools by that name.

From Ireland, Teresa Ball opened houses in India, England, Canada, Mauritius, Australia, Spain and East and South Africa. In more recent decades there have been foundations in many other countries across the globe.

Go, set the world on fire with the love of God
- Teresa Ball
Seek first the Kingdom of God and God's justice and all these other things shall be added to you
- Teresa Ball

From Ireland, Teresa Ball opened houses in India, England, Canada, Mauritius, Australia, Spain and East and South Africa. In more recent decades there have been foundations in many other countries across the globe.

The gift for Teresa Ball to us is her great missionary zeal, which took the vision and mission of Mary Ward far and wide. In the 19th Century, this was no small task!

Seek first the Kingdom of God and God's justice and all these other things shall be added to you
- Teresa Ball

Loreto in Llandudno

In 1919, the Institute founded a house in Llandudno which became a boarding and day school, as well as a novitiate for those wanting to join the sisters. When the boarding school closed in 1970 and the day school was handed over to the diocese and moved to other premises, the buildings began to be used for other purposes. This was the beginning of the Retreat Centre. The building provided accommodation for 35 people and was well used for many years.
More recently, after extensive reconstruction of our premises, the community moved to a new building which is named Loreto House. The old convent site was then refurbished to become the new home for Loreto Centre.

If you are a past pupil, you can view the memories of other past pupils and add your own by clicking the following link:

School Memories